Picnics and fireworks aren’t really my thing so I didn’t really plan on doing anything for the Fourth of July besides have dinner with my friend, Tea (more on that another day) but when my pal Michelle mentioned an American history themed bar in Chinatown, it was pretty obvious I had to go there and the fourth was the perfect day to do it.
Usually, you’ll need a reservation to enter The Hancock Room but the rule was lifted in celebration of the holiday. The first thing that pops out to you when you walk inside is the decor. Vintage tufted black leather couches, the Betsy Ross flag and the vintages lamps, it looks like you stepped into a pre-colonial smoking room.
However, the best decor in the Hancock Room is hands down the artwork. From Abraham Lincoln sitting on a bear with a machine gun to George Washingtown shooting down zombies (I wish I had a photo of that one), the art is incredible. While I waited for my friends to show up at the bar, I talked to John, the before mentioned owner/bartender. He said that a lot of the inspiration to owner up the Hancock room came from finding all these paintings of our earlier presidents doing super natural things, a juxtapose of how presidents were perceived back in the day. He was interested in doing something different (he’s also the owner of Sip Lounge) and wanted to use his interests of politics and history. Deciding to ditch the popular speakeasy route, John went old school, really old school. After acquiring the paintings, finding couches of craigslist to be reupholstered along with chandeliers and other decor, The Hancock Room opened this year.
As far as drinks go, The Hancock Room has a menu of reinvented cocktails based on brandy, gin, rum, bourbon, rye and scotch. I stuck to the whiskey drinks and to be honest, I don’t really have a favorite, I enjoyed them all. I would highly recommend the George Washington, though.
The drinks all have names reflecting the times like ‘The Revolution’ and ‘Crossing the Delaware’ and incorporate Lillet Blanc, Port, Sparking Wine and other ingredients you won’t find at your every dive bar and with drinks running at about 10 bucks a pop, you’re paying for high quality stuff. I even had John make the 19th Century. Didn’t like it so much.
While I don’t see myself here all the time, I’ll definitely be returning when I feel like having good drinks and having a fun time in a truly unique environment. Let’s just hope I remember to make reservations 48 hours in advance.
The Hancock Room
1350 Powell Street
San Francisco, CA